I juggle for a living. If I throw four balls into the air, seven may come back down. Hey, I didn’t say I was good at it. But somehow I’ve managed to eke out a career and keep myself clothed and fed.
My daily routine includes finding motivation, working efficiently, managing inventory, and making nice with clients. Oh, and also building bicycles. The juggling doesn’t get any easier simply because I’ve been doing this for so long; either my balls are bigger now, or I have more of them.
Framebuilding a l’Atmo requires design, experience, machine work, motor skills, and craft. Even on the best days, the bicycle I’m working on can fit perfectly yet have wonky file work. Or the hand-made flourishes could make the harshest art critic orgasmic but the alignment has drifted into the Oh Fuck column. It’s all about compromise.
My first decade at the bench was spent assuming that, by year eleven, it would soon all make sense. It wasn’t too long ago that I realized nailing it from end to end was just concept. It’s 2014, and I believe that more than ever. It’s all about acceptance too.
I’ve become über confident regarding my torch and fabrication skills. And I’m borderline arrogant about my design and fit capabilities. My metal work has slipped some, probably because I get eager to start the next unit while fast losing interest in making the one I’m working on even more beautiful. That’s when I tell myself these are just bicycles, not future heirlooms for the Antiques Roadshow set. Yeah – it’s also all about making your my own rules and changing them as needed.
There’s this scene in Pee Wee’s Great Adventures when he crashes his bicycle, gets up and laughs it off, and utters those precious words, “I meant to do that.” That’s how I feel when a delivery is late, or a tube length is off by 1.5mm, or when the color is a shade too bright, or a bicycle arrives half a world away and I forgot to rustproof it. With so many balls in the air, I often let some hit the ground – on purpose, of course.